this is gonna be easy.’ Well, it’s not easy
because we had a 50,000 circulation all
across the state … So I had to write
about state issues. And the easiest way
to write a column is to kind of put in the
first paragraph what you’re going to
write about, and then you kind of get the
information. It might be a person or a
political issue … A good columnist writes
simply, and a lot of paragraphs and not
long ... And so you would want to have a
fairly short sentence and then make it
without using a lot of big words ... And
then easy paragraphs in your column
should say what you’re going to write
about, you know, and then give them the
details of it.
CL: What advice can you share with
other local aspiring authors?
NY: It’s a very dicult process. And so
it’s not easy. So if people say, ‘I’m gonna
write a book about my family,’ and they
get to the first generation and then they
kind of blank, it requires a lot of research
to do that. I was very lucky to have a
publisher. It’s very dicult to get a
publisher and this came out of South
Carolina. They specialize in history
books, but after you’ve finished the
book, and you’re so proud of it and
everything, you send out a letter to
publishers all over, you’re gonna see a
lot of rejection. And so be patient. It’s
like fishing and you’re going to throw
that rod out a whole bunch and then
you’re gonna catch a fish, but somebody
will, or one of the publishers will call you
and say we’re interested in this book.
CL: How has your environment
influenced your work?
NY: So I grew up in Cedartown, Georgia,
in the 50s and 60s. My family was
always very liberal. So that helped me
out and then my family down in Valdosta,
they were very strong for civil rights. A
town that was in South Georgia with 45%
of the population Black. So that was
really during the civil rights period. They
were very progressive.
CL: What’s your favorite part about
writing? Your least favorite?
NY: My favorite part is learning about
these people. You know, I’ve heard of
them all my life … I found out things
about them that I didn’t know. So that is
the best part … The most dicult part is
actually writing the piece. I mean, I did
this for the book, I would do one a week.
Sometimes two a week. Finding the time,
you know your wife’s telling you that you
got to do this, and you know, I like to
play golf, and so, finding the time to
write is hard. So what I would do is I
would go over to Starbucks, and take an
hour and a half, two hours, three hours,
and go through and write the book. I
would stack them up.
CL: Who are you currently reading?
NY: There’s a new book about Robert E.
Lee. I’m going to be doing a book club
on that … I love history like that.
CL: Who is your favorite author of all
NY: William Manchester. He’s a great
historian, and I’m a big fan of Winston
Churchill. I’ve got a collection of all the
famous authors and historical figures in
my oce … And so I’ve got a big
collection of those and I’ve got a big
collection of famous people, of soldiers.
Mainly of the Civil War and I’ve got Grant,
I’ve got Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I’ve
got General Sherman. So I’m a big fan of
the Civil War, and my wife says, I live in
the 15th century — Leonardo da Vinci,
Henry the Eighth.
CL: What makes your work stand out
from other authors in the same
NY: My idea that each person stands on
his own. I did a lot of research, you
know, on the first part of the 50s, but a
lot of these people, I have personal
stories. For instance, Joseph Lowery.
I’ve interviewed him and know a lot
about him and how famous he was.
Andrew Young, I’m friends with him …
So I’ve got a lot of personal stories in
here that you wouldn’t see mainly in a
CL: Why did you start writing? What
made you take the plunge?
NY: I think people need to know about
these folks. Especially young people.
I’ve had a lot of businesses take this
book … They’re sending them out to all
of their employees. Then a lot of people
in Marietta, you can buy them and give
them to your children.
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM NEELY
YOUNG’S DEBUT BOOK, “GEORGIA MADE.”
This book names the most influential Georgians of the
twentieth century. This eort asks the question: who has
had the most significant impact — both good and bad — on
our state’s history? Many are exceptional people. Some are
modest, obscure, famous, flamboyant or reprehensible. But
they cannot fail to be interesting.
For instance, in 1971, Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer
from South Georgia, became governor of Georgia. When his
term ended, he ran for president of the United States and
In 1930, golfer Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam,
winning four major golf championships in one year. No one
has ever matched this mark, not even Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods. In 1934, he founded
the Augusta National Masters Golf Tournament, which is still the number-one golf event in
In 1912, Georgia governor John Slaton condemned the hanging of Leo Frank, a Jewish
man who was sentenced to hang for the murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, an
event that attracted national attention. The governor found no reason for Frank to be
hanged for his supposed crime and changed Frank’s conviction to life. Although a group of
citizens kidnapped Frank and lynched him, Governor Slaton stood tall.
However, some are influential for bad things they did or the evil they incited. In the
1950s and 1960s, Governor Lester Maddox continued Georgia’s racist programs that
eventually propelled Dr. Martin Luther King, Governor Ernest Vandiver and many others to
turn the tide through persistent peaceful protests and legislative action to successfully
integrate Georgia schools.